Saturday, August 29, 2009

One of the good moments

Lots of good moments this first week of being at home with my kids for school. Not gonna lie - lots of hard moments, too - but we all expected that (or at least all us pessimists did). Favorite moment, though, hands down, was just yesterday: Friday. Not even a "school day" (we work Monday through Thursday). Bright and way too early in the morning, a woman named Sue appeared at my house to give Joseph his first piano lesson.

Sue wore a tad too much perfume for my sensitivities, but she was smiley and at ease and friendly as heck. I got her a chair, she pulled out her books, Joe had a seat on the bench and me and the girls observed from various locations around the living room. At one point, Sue was talking too much to me instead of Joe (in my opinion) so I left the room and busied myself with some kitchen chores.

As I went about my stuff, I took little looks in on the lesson from time to time. I might have been smiling ear to ear for all I know. You could say this piano lesson thing is a dream come true.

I'm no more musical than an armadillo. But I see the value and the beauty in music and therefore in knowing music. If you can make music... well, then, sheesh! -- you're something special. I wanted to learn piano as a child, but we didn't own a piano and Mom said it was too expensive. Fast forward more than two decades and when I came across a piano for fifty bucks I grabbed it. Now, three moves later and two tuning jobs paid for - my eight year-old started what I would have liked to when I was his age.

So... is that all this is? One of those vicarious things? Next thing I'll push Cayna into cheerleading and Bethanie into theater? I really don't think so. There definitely is the element of "I'm happy to give my kid something I never got," but other things on that list include a Lite Brite and a Sit-n-Spin - so there's not much meaning there.

Joseph giggled through parts of the lesson (Sue really is good) and enjoyed himself thoroughly. By the end he was playing a couple short little songs including masterpieces like "Old Mac Donald". I just felt thankful. We own a fifty-dollar piano. Kevin has a job that for right now allows us to pay for lessons to learn to play it. Joseph has the interest. The instructor is fabulous. The sun shines through our East-facing window on August Friday mornings. So there's the meaning in the piano lesson. A whole lot of little good things coming together to make a shining moment. Worth sharing.

Girls Day In

Kevin and Joe went fishing. John's been napping. So Cayna, Bethanie, and I played "hospital". I was the patient, victim of a broken leg. Cayna was Dr. Jenna and Bethanie was Nurse Emma.

My cast:

Most physicians probably don't wear masks quite like this. I asked Dr. Jenna why she was wearing it and she said, "So I don't get your germs."

Not sure what she wrote in her notebook. At one point, she administered some meds (one Goldfish cracker) and said, "You have to do what the doctor says -- and don't disagree!" This makes her sound like about ninety-nine percent of our nation's obstetricians. Though I believe she was an orthopedist. You never know, in hospitals.

Nurse Emma was darling, and kept careful charts. I did notice, however, that she asked "how it happened" about thirteen times. Was she listening, or just busy trying to catch the eye of a cute resident down the hall?

Despite my cynicism toward the medical profession, I'm expected to make a full recovery. Even though, in Dr. Jenna's words, I have to wear my cast "almost forever."

Friday, August 28, 2009


Wednesday was my one-year anniversary of starting this blog. Like some other anniversaries, it passed without flowers or fanfare. But I did remember! Next year I'll send myself a box of chocolates.

In honor of the occasion, I'm working on getting a good shot of myself looking less like a nun. Truthfully, I think I look like an attractive thirty-something sitting serenely by a crab-apple tree. MAGAN said I look like a nun. My intent is to get a shot as different as I can and post both! Sorta like I'm multiple-personality girl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ski Lessons

On a snowy mountain outside Salt Lake City, Utah, I took my first ski lesson. The instructor said something like: "If you finish here today and like skiing even just a little bit, you could probably be a skiier."

Yesterday was our first day of homeschooling, and I was reminded of those profound ski-instructor words. There were a couple hairy moments (like when Bethanie was pouring out her worst whine and John was having a fit at the same time), but through the whole (rather short) experience, I was thinking it was pretty cool.

There's an adjustment phase we have to go through - and the ensuing stress that any transition brings - but I did end up liking skiing more than just a little bit - and that involves the risk of hitting trees at seventy miles an hour. The worst that can happen with homeschooling is that my kids will grow three heads and shoot at honest citizens from a clock tower.

But just look at these cuties. I don't think they'll be setting up any clock tower perches anytime soon.

P.S. They're holding up "number one" in honor of the first day of school.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Office/School Room Before and After

We worked hard on this room and we're really happy with it. Now we pray that our school time here will be blessed by God.

Here is the main wall as it was before we started:

And here's the same view today:

Here's the "closet space" for the room. It used to house a wire shelf (now in the garage) full of the kids' craft supplies and some of our other assorted junk (which I had to find a better home for):

And the same space now, which holds my desk, a shelf Kevin built for school books, and all my other assorted office supplies:

Finally, a view of the window, the kids' table, and more shelves Kevin built. I designed the curtains, and my lovely seamstress neighbor Karen sewed them (and Kristi's mom, Melody hemmed them). I LOVE all the color in this room.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kevin's been singing "Basketball Jones"

"That's my hook shot with my eyebrow..."

"I need someone to set a pick for me at the free-throw line of life
Someone I can pass to
Someone to hit the open man on the give-and-go..."

Over the past couple of months, Kevin has been singing these weird basketball lyrics and little did I know until this moment that they are sung by Cheech and Chong!!! Ai yi yi!

Anyhoo --- it was fun to see Joe get excited about basketball. Especially for me, the mom, since it is way more fun to watch than baseball.

So... here he is in his Skechers skateboarding shoes making a shot during warm-up (in mid-air, thank you to the sports photographer - me!):

Here's Coach Dad (Kevin):

And here's future joneser, John, dribbling in the stands:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where there's a will, there's a way...

For the past two years, I hosted a prayer brunch on the first day of school. Totally fun. Got a bunch of moms together with our preschoolers and prayed for our kids, their schools and classmates and teachers. And - bonus - ate yummy food together.

This year I realized it wouldn't be the same with my homeschooled kids. So I abandoned the idea as a loss due to this new venture in my family. Today I realized it could work if I just shifted the logistics. Voila! We're meeting at 9:00 p.m. - six of the praying women on our street, and wrapping up by 9:30. Of course we'll include food, but instead of breakfast fare, we'll have cookies and sweet tea.


Flip Flop Horror

Feeling compelled to share a different example of the things Kevin sends me on a typical day. DESPITE the fact that he knows I have just a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder and elevated anxiety and germaphobia.

Click on this fun link unless you're a germaphobe,too.

You'll be happy to know I can often successfully battle my issues. I did NOT throw out my flip flops after reading this.

Why do we have children?

I've heard a lot of theories. This one is pretty good. Thanks to Kevin for sending me the link to this short, funny, truthful article. It beats the one he sent me earlier this week about deadly bacteria on flip-flops.

Click here if you wanna read it!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mom's Day Off (Out)

I had my monthly day off this past Saturday. I'm still figuring out what to make of my days off. Primarily, I just need a day off of my main responsibilities (my children and my home). Secondarily, I need a little silence, a little solitude, some spiritual refreshment, some friend time. The great thing is no one dictates this but me and so I can tweak it a little every month.

Well, this month was devoted necessarily to one of my least favorite activities: shopping. I had birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, and some remaining school supplies to procure. Plus my step-mom wanted to take me out for a belated birthday lunch. So we met at the District and ate at Tacone (which I still don't know how they pronounce). Mmmmmm - shrimp burritos. Then we shopped around a little together, parted ways, and I shopped more... and more... and more. I kept thinking I could never ever go that many places with kids. Furthermore, I could never ever go that many places with anyone I'd want to keep a friendship with. It was crazy. I tired myself out completely before landing in a custard shop to enjoy dessert and journal some goals for my kids this school year.

Due to the record-breaking number of stores I hit, I feel the need to list them (and what they offered):

Janie and Jack (step-mom shopping for her great-grandchild to-be)
Anthropologie (looking for home decor, bought hand lotion with birthday cash)
Magnolia Lane (looking for home decor, step-mom bought me a little wreath)
Brighton (looking for anything under $185.00 - step-mom bought me earrings)
Pottery Barn (looking for desk organizer)
Williams-Sonoma (step-mom looking for skillet - I assured her she could find one at Target for one-fifth the price)
Wal-Mart (bought LOTS of school supplies for $13.00)
Lakeshore (bought the rest of my school supplies)
DSW (spent the rest of my b-day money on two pairs of shoes and the first purse I've bought in eight years - I've always had diaper bags that hold my wallet, etc.)
Target (one always "needs" something at Target)
Pier One (looking for who-knows-what, I think I was in a daze by this point)
Aaron Brothers (whoops! forgot the kids needed sketch books)
Home Goods (carried a plastic lobster around the store for Bethanie - long story - but ruled it out because it was $14.00)
Lowes (sheet metal - I'm making my own magnet board)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

John's Barber

That's me.

Desperate to save a buck or two - haircuts add up in this family! - I decided to cut John's hair myself. I have been taught (though ages ago) to do scissor cuts on men and boys, but it's not an easy task with a wiggly one year-old.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hanging out at the Pope Table

Last night I had another one of those semi-surreal moments where I realize I stepped into an alternate reality converting from Protestant to Catholic and from a single young woman to a married mom of four who homeschools. Do you ever marvel at the places life takes you?

Last night life took me to Buca di Beppo. Haven't been there in years, and the last time was with my brother and his fam in Seattle. This time was with over a dozen Catholic homeschooling moms and we sat at the Pope table. I take that decision as a sign that the group has a good sense of humor. Shared some shrimp and penne with a friend as Pope Benedict observed us. Planned numerous activities for the coming year. Announced to the group that I never thought I'd be dining at the Pope table as a Catholic --- then one of the women rotated Benedict around on the lazy Susan to face me and said, in an imitation German accent: "Welcome to the Church!" Everybody laughed, including me. Welcome to the Church. Welcome to homeschooling. Welcome to my new reality.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Son of a Gun, Gonna Have Big Fun on the Bayou!

Our friends had live crawfish shipped in from Louisiana and put out a fantastic lunch spread yesterday.

I've never had crawfish, but I was looking forward to trying, since I am a fan of all its relatives. It should also be said that I will try almost anything food-wise. I may not be a chef, but I am for sure a person who enjoys food of all kinds (I wish it was the other way around, truly).

It didn't go well. One guy (one of the cooks) gave me a couple demos on how to break the things open and get the "meat" out. (You can also suck the juices from the head, but I decided I wasn't up for that, no matter how daring I thought I was.) I piled a few of the little critters on my plate and found a seat.

I tried the sausage. I savored some well-seasoned potatoes. A little chicken. A little beef. But every time I glanced at the crawfish, THEY GLANCED BACK!!! I couldn't do it. Even if I could avoid their stare, they reminded me too much of scorpions or cockroaches, two of my least-favorite things in the universe. But, oh, their flavor was good! Somehow I got Kevin to do the dirty work. He wasn't interested in eating them, but had no problem preparing them for me. Go figure. Not a bad arrangement, really.

Admittedly, I was a tad disappointed in myself. This food adventurer might be growing wimpy the older I get. I hope it's not true.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If You've Got the Extra Particle Board...

Cayna had been asking Kevin to make a princess for her for days. And she wanted it made of wood. She went to the right place, since our garage is still part workshop after all the shelf-making Kevin has been doing.

The other night, the two of them disappeared into the garage to make the princess. I don't know what I was picturing, but there was an awful lot of sawing going on. Half an hour later, they emerged, and Cayna was beaming with delight over her particleboard princess (which, incidentally, is massively heavy and she can't even carry it upstairs to her room without Bethanie's help).

Doesn't Cayna look cute in goggles? There she is with Miss Stephanie, in case you were wondering her name. She awaits a coat of primer and some "decorating" by Cayna. Does this mean I don't have to buy her an American Girl doll for Christmas?

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Nobody Reads Your Crappy Blog"

Some guy at Kevin's jobsite wore a t-shirt with that quote on it. Kevin says he wasn't referring to MY blog. Of course not. I have at LEAST two readers!

Why would a guy wear a t-shirt like that on the job? Unless he works for some kind of business that employs a whole bunch of bloggers? Everyone knows engineers don't blog. At least not the ones I know, and I know quite a few.

Crappy blog, indeed.

(That t-shirt, in my opinion, is FAR more upsetting than "Birth Control is for Wimps")

Off to pout.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Short Summer

I had intended to give the kids a longer break than they would get with their public school schedule. I thought it would be a good thing to "undo" the old routine before beginning the new. But after a lot of discussion and consideration, we're starting the new school year right along with most of the rest of Las Vegas. Which means just over a week from now. I think that it will take the new routine to undo the old. And they want to have the same first day as their friends in public school.

So... as soon as I made that decision, the first big wave of panic rolled over me. I've had smaller waves of panic. This was more like a tidal wave. Nothing to do but pull out the schedule, books, and lesson plan and tackle my fears. Other than a few "hitches" with their math and their art curriculum, it was a breeze. I'm ready, in other words.

I'm hoping some wise and creative people I know will read this and chime in with comments including your favorite "first day of school" ideas. So far, we're going to do a couple fun things, a light intro to their texts, and then a parade around the house. I'm calling it a "school tour". This is it, kids! This... your HOME... is also our school! I've already thought of the joke I'll make as we pass by the bathrooms, but I'll spare you my corny sense of humor on that one.

Oh, and fun moment with our pediatrician. He's a rather stern Middle-Eastern guy who smiles very subtly, and talks softly and chooses his words. At an appointment last week, he asked Joseph what school he went to. Joe told him he's going to homeschool and this doc perked right up. "Can I send my kids to you?" "That's great!" "Hey, how 'bout a joint venture? I'll do science and math!"

Gotta love it. I'm adding my kids' pediatrician's offer to teach science and math to the most surprising responses I've had so far.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

We made it through the night.

Last night was our first "camp-in" since living in this house. In years past, in houses past - Kevin and Joe have set up our tent in the back yard, or even in the living room (in two of our houses, we've had large rooms unfurnished) - snacked on a box of Cheez-Its and spent the night.

Now that our tent has had actual outdoor camping use, it's too dirty to set up in my family room - so we just shifted some furniture and rolled out five sleeping bags (John was none the wiser in his crib). This is more honestly reminiscent of camping with my dad when I was growing up - "sleeping under the stars" he called it. My ten year-old self called it "terrifyingly vulnerable to bugs and axe-murderers camping with Dad".

Our tile floor is HARD. Our neighbors porch light is BRIGHT. My fear of scorpion sting is INTENSE. The sugar and junk we all consumed before sleep was PLENTIFUL. For all those reasons, I slept horribly, but am still glad we did it. As soon as we woke up (at 5:30, thank you) Kevin started listing off the things we'll do different next time. None of his suggestions included hauling our sleep number bed downstairs. Oh, well.

Friday, August 7, 2009

"Last" Photos

Today was the last day of school. Both Joe and I shed a few tears. Here are my cutie-heads posing before school. Cayna with her flowers for her Kindergarten teacher. Both in their luau-wear (no coconut bras, but one girl in Cayna's class did wear one over a long-sleeve skin-color leotard):

Here we are at church last week on the last day of VBS. It was a blast.

Bethie with her last round of block structures. She is an expert design architect and engineer. It's only the last round until the blocks come out again.

I'm making sure I'm the last in my family in my generation that hates cooking. It starts by cultivating a love for crafting a pb&j with my daughters. And Joseph makes a mean quesadilla. Hey, I didn't do either of those on my own until near-adulthood.

This photo was taken a couple weeks ago, but it's been an identical scene many nights lately. Last night he finished the last of the shelves for the office/schoolroom. Now for more painting and then it'll be DONE!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Emotional Me

In ten minutes we leave for the pediatrician. Both the little ones need shots. That's enough to leave me needing to be talked down from the edge of my nerve building. But it's ALSO the older ones' last full day of school. I even took a photo of them since it's their last uniform day (tomorrow both have luaus and I guess will wear grass skirts and coconut bras).

I need something to take my mind off these little woes. Prayer, yes. Perhaps also some shout-and-scream-and-dance-around-the-downstairs therapy. Gotta get this nervous energy OUT!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Slow Day 'Round Here

Even on days like today, when I set out to do nothing, I keep up the carpool, read an encyclical, meet the Moms' group for frozen yogurt, drop by the library to claim summer reading program prizes, make dinner, have an evening playdate, bathe three children, take a walk in the "cool" ninety-three degrees, paint the first coat on one last wall, "help" Kevin with shelf-making, blog, and then collapse in bed.

Tomorrow is busier.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Living peace and forgiveness with the kangaroo

I risk sounding cheesy and trite, but I hope you'll know that I don't mean to be that way. Everything is worked out with the kangaroo (at least regarding this recent "incident") and I can only credit Jesus. It was perfect that the kangaroo problem arose on Sunday and I had a counseling appointment on Monday. In counseling, the immaturity and narcissism behind my anger are coming to the surface. And that's good, because then I can confess it, be forgiven, and grow up and move on. Praise the Lord.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A little vent about my kangaroo

I already, apparently, hurt someone's feelings on Facebook. (Which, if you were paying attention, I have not been on in MONTHS!) So, in an effort to keep myself out of MORE hot water, will refer to my problem with the code name "kangaroo."

Sometimes I hate my kangaroo. There it is. Sometimes makes it hard to follow Jesus, hating my kangaroo, but on certain days I can't help it. It sucks. Then the anger subsides a little and I just wish I could lightly dismiss my kangaroo. Like, ignore it, you know? But it won't go away. It can't. Just not in the nature of a kangaroo. Plus, I think it would not be healthy for my future kangaroo to banish the original kangaroo, know what I mean?

In order to maintain a safe blood pressure, and keep from eating entire gallons of ice cream in a depressive frenzy - I will pray about the kangaroo, hope for its salvation, and to be completely honest -- avoid kangaroo issues for as long as possible until this current wave of annoyance subsides. Which will, incidentally, take some kangaroo effort. Let's not hold our breath.

For the record, I am a firm believer in the policy that if you are angry or upset at a person, you go tell that person. You don't stew. You don't go tell OTHER people. It's scriptural! It's common sense. It's relationally healthy. There. I wish I felt better.